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Many Canadians may be unaware that the government’s omnibus Economic Action Plan for 2014 included a number of proposals related to intellectual property rights in Canada, including sweeping changes to the Trade-marks Act. Bill C-31 was tabled on March 28th, and received royal assent (was passed) as Canada’s Budget Implementation Act on June 19, 2014. While these changes will allow Canada to accede to three international trademark treaties, namely the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty, and the Nice Agreement, they will also introduce a fundamental shift to our trademarks regime, the implications of which may be widespread.

According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (‘CIPO’), the amendments represent a significant milestone towards the government’s commitment to modernize Canada’s IP regime, so that it is aligned with international best practices, and ‘the ratification of these treaties will provide Canadian businesses with access to a trademark regime that aligns with international best practices, reduces cost and administrative burden, facilitates expansion in foreign markets and also draws foreign investment to Canada.’ CIPO will be consulting with stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of changes to the Trade-marks Regulations over the next few months. In the meantime, the current provisions remain in force.

The amendments include the simplification of the requirements for obtaining a filing date in relation to an application for the registration of a trademark, the elimination of the requirement to declare use of a trade-mark before registration, the reduction of the term of registration of a trade-mark from 15 to 10 years, and the adoption of the classification established by the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks.

Canadian businesses will likely benefit from reduced costs and streamlined administrative procedures, which are aimed at facilitating expansion into foreign markets, as well as attract foreign investment in Canada, but the amendments may also “make businesses more vulnerable” as a result of the removal of the current ‘use’ requirements for registration. Specific changes will be explored in more detail in future posts.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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